THE DESTRUCTION OF HOMONHON ISLAND


After the natural disaster Yolanda, an unnatural disaster has not been noticed by majority of the Filipino people and it had been operating in Homonhon Island, Guiuan Town, Eastern Samar for about eight (8) years. Many parts of the country experienced the same environmental disaster like those happening in Cagayan, Ilocos, Zambales and other unnoticeable areas. But Homonhon Island’s ruins of its coastlines and mountains caught my attention because its coastal area is historical.

The Portuguese Navigator Ferdinand Magellan visited the beautiful island of Homonhon in 1521. Evidence of this landing had been marked with monuments, markers or preserved for posterity by the local government and the residents of the island.

What did the miners do that damaged the shorelines of Homonhon Island? For the past eight (8) years the miners burrowed black sand on the coastal area and load them to Chinese ships docked not far away from the shores. The black sand produces magnetite that produces steel. That sustains China’s telecom industries, and medical and audio equipment industries.

How did it happen? Reports from various newspapers revealed that there could be two reasons. While it is legal for Filipinos to mine under Production and Sharing Agreements with the government, what happened in Homonhon was – the mining company “elbowed its way by buying the local miner”.

So, analysts believed that there were participation from local government officials and government agencies that made the Chinese company’s mining operation on Homonhon went on and on even if “the local islanders pleaded” that the Zone had been awarded to them for pasteuring. This is not the only rape of Homonhon’s natural resources that had been happening. The continued excavations for mining purposes had created irreparable damage to the health of the island’s land resources. The islanders seemed helpless because they are fighting a giant institution that had been against their welfare all along.

There were reports of harassment of islanders who opposed the continued mining of black sand on Homonhon Island.
Will the rape of our natural resources continue? Is there no one who can strongly oppose this rape? Homonhon Island is not just the only case but there are others sharing this sorrowful state. These are Cagayan, Ilocos, Zambales, Pangasinan, and Agusan del Sur, among others.

What are the possible catastrophic effect of all these black sand mining, ferronickel mining and others? These will cause the following: ruins of seashores, displacement and death of corals, denudation of forest, muddy rivers and other waterways, leveling of mountains that could influence flush floods, erosion of coastal areas and beaches specially of Homonhon Island, disturb the water table, and drying up of local wells which are very important in the life of humans, farmers and agriculture, among others.

Are you going to let this pass by without doing an act? If you will not, who will? The earth is not only for us – the present generation, but it is also for those generations that will follow us. Let us be kind to them by protecting the only planet that gave us life. Let us protect Homonhon Island, Cagayan, Ilocos, Zambales, Pangasinan, Eastern Samar, Agusan del Sur, Surigao, Dinagat Island, Palawan and many others from these destructive mining practices.

Updates:

During the first quarter of 2017. Philippines’ Secretary of the DENR – Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Gina Lopez reported a massive destruction of the mountain areas of Surigao, Dinagat Island and other areas in Mindanao and Luzon because of mining operations.  Most of these mining companies violate some provisions of the law. The DENR has left no choice but to issue a temporary  Order to stop mining operations of these mining firms, mostly in Mindanao.

The DENR is giving these mining companies time to present their side before allowing them to continue their mining activities.

Some Watershed Areas in the Philippines, specifically, those located in Mindanao had also been mined which threaten the sources of water in these areas.  Water is life and the destruction of the watershed violates the right of the local residents’ access to clean water.  It affects all facets of life in those areas affected.

Facing threats of not being confirmed by the powerful Commission on Appointments, Secretary Lopez stressed the importance of protecting the environment not only for today’s generation but for the generations to come.  Lopez had the support of most Filipinos who expressed their views through the social media.  Groups, NGOs, as well as organizations that are pro-environment also support the DENR’s thrusts in protecting the environment for a more sustainable mining industry.

Earthniversity supports all positive efforts of the environment department of the Philippines because it is aimed at protecting the local environment.  This effort achieves what Earthniversity believes in – Think Globally, Act Locally.

Local initiatives to protect the environment from utter destruction by corrupt politicians and greedy miners have been a problem in  this part of the earth for a long time.

If you have any comment please feel free to communicate with   us or leave a comment here. (Henry Libo-on)   Updated 23 February, 2017
References:
MAC: Mines and Communities on 2013-11-18
Source: Statements, Reuters, Business World, Inquirer (2013-11-20)
Homonhon Chromite Loading by cielyg’s on youtube.